"The One About Mom"
5" x 3" x 3"
powder coated steel
Truth is, I wasn’t raised by wolves.
I wasn’t found under a rock or sent to Earth to destroy the dreams of my students. I was born in a hospital in South Carolina and I grew up with the best parents. My brothers are cool too, but this isn’t about them. This one is about mom.
My dad passed away in the spring of 2012 and since then I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the impact my parents have had and still have on my life. More than anyone else, they molded me and formed me into what I am today and I’m lucky enough to still be learning from my mom.
She probably has super powers. If you met her you’d know exactly what I’m talking about. She’s constantly in motion and always doing things for other people. In her seventies she can outcook you, outwork you and she can probably outrun you. Seriously.
In my earliest memories it seemed like she was always cooking or cleaning. This is because she was literally always cooking or cleaning. I should probably clarify for modern audiences what I mean by “cooking”. My mom didn’t unwrap things and toss them in the microwave for her kids to eat. She cooked from scratch. She made biscuits with flour and lard, fried real chicken (bones and all) and cooked bacon on the stove top the way God intended. And when she was finished creating each spectacular meal for her hungry husband and three sons (three times each day) she cleaned up the kitchen and washed the dishes. By hand. She had a strict “no dish left behind” policy.
She picked, shelled, broke, shucked and froze or canned pretty much everything in the garden. She cracked and shelled buckets and buckets of pecans. She picked scuppernongs and muscadines and made the best jelly known to man (I have a fresh jar of it in my fridge right now). She picked up after the aforementioned husband and three sons and cleaned the house every Friday. And again, for modern audiences, when I say she cleaned the house I mean her floors were cleaner than your dinner plates.
She taught Sunday School, was the volunteer church secretary, was the unofficial organizer of all family gatherings on her side of the family and she hosted Thanksgiving lunch on the other side of the family – a task she continues to hold on to year after year.
Oh, and she worked a full time job too.
Even with all that information, I don’t feel like you’re getting the gist of the kind of person my mom is. Here, this will help. I told you she hosts Thanksgiving lunch for the McAbee family, right? To call that a big meal would be a huge understatement. There can be 40-50 people or more at this lunch and mom cooks for 2 or 3 days to get it all ready. A few years ago she had some chest pain the week before Thanksgiving. An ER trip revealed her gall bladder was a mess and needed to be removed. She had surgery, they yanked it out and ordered her to rest. She told them it was Thanksgiving and sort of laughed at them. A couple of days later she was deep frying turkeys and cooking casseroles.
This may help even more. Several years ago my brother bought an overgrown wooded lot and needed it cleared so he could build a house. Since we do things ourselves, he had everyone come over on a Saturday with an army of chainsaws. My mom didn’t sit the bench with the ladies, she grabbed a chainsaw and tore through the woods like a bulldozer. One of my brother’s friends – a grown man - whispered to my brother that he was embarrassed that he couldn’t work as hard as our mom. He said, “She won’t stop. She’s like the Terminator!” My brother refers to her as the Terminator to this day. So my dad was a work-a-holic and my mom is the Terminator. Now you know where my “work, work, work” work ethic comes from.
Mom hates cats with a fervent passion. I’m proud to say she passed this honorable trait on to me. She also passed her poor eyesight down to me. I’ve been wearing contacts since 7th grade and mom’s been wearing them since way back in the day when contacts were these huge glass discs that covered your whole eyeball. Before that she wore glasses. I don’t really remember any glasses frames from my childhood but the ones I do remember were the ones she always had on in the older family photos. We had these huge old photo books stored in closets and drawers when I was a kid and I loved flipping through them and staring at the images. In the photos before I was born she always had a beehive hairdo and these big, curved horn-rimmed glasses. We called them “spiderman glasses” because they mimicked the shape of Spidey’s masked eyes. (My brother was a comic nerd and still is…Tangled Web Comics in Spartanburg for all your comic and game needs.) My memory is etched with the horn-rimmed glasses. And the chainsaw.
yes, that's me on mom's back at Disney in 1972
Mom’s retired now and she’s just as busy as ever. She babysits truckloads of grandkids, cuts acres of grass, cleans houses for fun and takes care of just about everyone. Last year her doctor fussed at her because she hurt her knee. Ok, not because she hurt it, but because of how she hurt it. When he asked she told him matter-of-factly that she fell while climbing a ladder to prune the top of an apple tree. She’s a machine.
At least she wasn’t using a chainsaw this time.